Adalah: The Syrian Regime is Committing War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity; Independent Investigation into the Homs Massacre and other Crimes against Civilians Must be Opened
(Haifa, Israel) Adalah condemns the brutal massacre committed by the Syrian regime on 3 and 4 February 2012 against its own citizens in Homs, where it used tanks, artillery and mortar fire in densely-populated civilian areas. The attacks resulted in the deaths of over 200 people and the injury of hundreds of others, according to multiple sources. This massacre and the systematic killing of citizens by the Syrian regime, which began with the outbreak of pro-reform protests in March 2011, has so far claimed at least 7,100 lives, according to local coordination committees. Intentionally directing attacks against civilians is considered a crime against humanity in international criminal law, specifically Article 7 of the Rome Statute, and a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of 1998. Willful killing and causing wanton, extensive destruction to property are also considered grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
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The brutality inflicted by the Syrian regime on its citizens is a direct result of a systemic lack of democracy and respect for human rights in the country. The regime is based on militaristic oppression, which it has employed against its own people for decades. The Syrian regime has repeatedly refused to admit responsibility for the killings, and is instead waging a campaign of deliberate misinformation. Acts of violence against civilians are also being perpetrated by unidentified armed groups; however, the regime's violence does not justify acts of counter-violence or reprisals by other parties.
Adalah believes that the Syrian people are entitled to live in a democratic regime based on the rule of law, the separation of powers, and respect for human rights and civil rights for all – including the right to peaceful protest – without discrimination based on political opinion or affiliation, religious belonging, nationality or on any other basis. We therefore call for all sides to end all acts of violence against civilians. We further call on Arab civil society and the Arab human rights community to continue to support civilians and their calls for the establishment of a democratic regime in Syria and elsewhere, and to promote democratic regimes based on respect for human rights throughout the Arab world. We also call for an independent and effective investigation into the Homs massacre and other acts of violence against citizens in Syria based on international standards of independence, impartiality, transparency, promptness and effectiveness.